Gastro

Does Ibuprofen Cause Constipation? The Unknown Side Effect

Ibuprofen is no secret drug.

It’s a popular anti-inflammatory and pain relief medication used repeatedly by the public and sold worldwide to consumers without a prescription. 

Its purpose is to relieve pain, from mild headaches to rheumatoid arthritis. 

As Ibuprofen is so easily accessible, people forget that it is still a drug that may bring negative side effects. 

In most cases, sensible use is unlikely to trigger other symptoms. But taking Ibuprofen excessively or consuming more than the recommended dose can cause problems.

While a miracle drug for many, a widely reported side effect among Ibuprofen users is constipation. 

If you’re taking Ibuprofen and it’s triggering changes in your bowel movements, keep reading to learn how to ease your symptoms.

What Is Ibuprofen? 

Ibuprofen belongs to the class of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, also called NSAIDs.

You will have come across it in stores under various brand names, such as Advil and Motrin. 

Most people buy it over the counter, but it may also be prescribed by your doctor or healthcare professional.

The medication is widely used to treat pain and reduce fever, swelling, and inflammation. Most of us turn to it when facing menstrual cramps, migraines, toothaches, muscle aches, and other minor aches and pains in the body.

formula-ibuprofen

It comes in several forms, including film-coated tablets, chewable tablets, capsules, suppositories, soluble powders, and liquids.

It is suitable for use in both adults and children older than six months as long as you carefully follow the package directions.

Ibuprofen works by halting your body’s production of certain substances that cause pain and swelling.

Can Ibuprofen Cause Constipation?

While considered a safe medication, Ibuprofen can have some common side effects, including constipation. 

As everybody reacts differently to medications, constipation may not affect every user. However, it is more likely to affect those taking Ibuprofen more frequently. It is also more common if you’re an older adult. 

Fortunately, there are ways to handle the matter, but we’ll get into that soon.

woman has a stomach pain

Common Side Effects of Ibuprofen

Aside from blocking you up, Ibuprofen may also cause other gastrointestinal side effects, including fluid retention, nausea, stomach pain, and vomiting. 

Painkiller drugs like Ibuprofen may also cause heartburn as you produce more stomach acid. 

In most cases, symptoms are mild and not too uncomfortable to manage.

It’s important to note that some people may have serious side effects, usually if Ibuprofen is consumed in a high dose for long periods.

The more severe side effects include internal bleeding, stomach ulcers, and kidney disease.

Certain risk factors leave you more open to developing serious effects, such as cardiovascular disease or a greater risk of a heart attack.  

While most people can treat constipation, you should seek medical advice if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Blood in the stool
  • Severe pain
  • Constipation that lasts several days

How to Relieve Constipation Caused by Ibuprofen: 3 Easy Ways

You don’t have to accept the discomfort of constipation

There are many ways to alleviate this frustrating side effect quickly, many of which are simple home remedies. You can prevent constipation from recurring when you take your next dose with the following information. 

#1 Up your fiber intake

rich fiber food

Fiber is a natural laxative and key to getting digestive issues resolved.

Fiber-rich foods are great for gut health. They nourish the digestive system and keep things moving in the right direction. 

It’s easy to add more fiber to your diet. Whole grains like oats, barley, quinoa, and vegetables, including broccoli, artichokes, and beets, are rich sources. Others include beans, legumes, and citrus fruits

#2 Drink more fluids

glass of water

Water is everything when it comes to shifting constipation. 

When you don’t drink enough water, you force your colon to source water from your stool. When you increase your water intake, more water stores in the gut, softening the stool and making it easier to pass.

#3 Purchase a stool softener

ColonBroom

Stool softeners are a form of laxative and a quick-fix method for relieving constipation. 

Correctly named, they soften the stool by drawing in water. 

As with Ibuprofen, several brands are easily obtainable over the counter without a prescription.  

Fiber supplements like ColonBroom detox the gut and support healthy bowel movements in as little as 24–72 hours. 

The miracle ingredient, psyllium husk, is a natural dietary fiber sourced from the Plantago plant. It gently impacts the gut, working as a bulk-forming laxative.

Many people rely on ColonBroom to combat constipation and bloating.

A Word From our RD

Taking Ibuprofen is a normal occurrence in most households.

It is one of several anti-inflammatory drugs used to relieve minor aches and moderate pain throughout the body. 

Most of us can access Ibuprofen without having to seek professional medical advice. The drug appears risk-free and a simple way to manage discomfort. 

What people don’t realize is that taking Ibuprofen can cause constipation. And if you’ve had it before, you’ll know it’s incredibly stressful to have a bowel movement. 

The good news is home remedies can serve as treatment for constipation, like increasing your fiber intake and drinking plenty of fluids. Generally, it’s a manageable symptom. 

However, too much Ibuprofen can incur other side effects detrimental to your health. For instance, overuse can damage the digestive tract and put you at increased risk of heart disease and stroke. 

Always read the package label, and avoid prolonging your use of Ibuprofen, especially in a higher dose. 

If you can’t find relief from constipation or experience any further symptoms, stop taking Ibuprofen and consult your doctor

You should also check the inactive ingredients within Ibuprofen or other NSAIDs to mitigate allergic reactions.

Ibuprofen-Induced Constipation: The Bottom Line

Ibuprofen is the anti-inflammatory drug of choice as a self-help measure or as medicine recommended by your doctor. 

Can Ibuprofen cause constipation? Well, most people can tolerate Ibuprofen, but as with any medication, there is potential for side effects. Often, they are preventable if you stick to the medication guide. 
While constipation isn’t ideal, you can take comfort in knowing that you can alleviate symptoms with some simple methods.

Edibel Quintero, MD
Edibel Quintero is a medical doctor who graduated in 2013 from the University of Zulia and has been working in her profession since then. She specializes in obesity and nutrition, physical rehabilitation, sports massage and post-operative rehabilitation. Edibel's goal is to help people live healthier lives by educating them about food, exercise, mental wellness and other lifestyle choices that can improve their quality of life.
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